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Clean socks a boon to infantry in Fallujah

14 Apr 2004 | Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

The gruff bark from the platoon sergeant was music to the ears of the infantrymen of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

"Your dog-gone packs are here, now lets get a working party going," said Gunnery Sgt. James E. Dinwoodie, platoon sergeant for Weapons Platoon, Company E.

After days of gunfire, sweat and grime, there's something to be said for the luxury of changing into clean socks, shirts and skivvies.  Simple pleasures in life, such as sleeping bags and toothpaste caught up to the Marines who fought against enemy forces in the city for more than a week.

"It's about time we got our packs because we stink," whispered Cpl. Jeramy Whitley, an infantryman in 1st Platoon.

Water, meals and other supplies are arriving more regularly now.  Earlier supply convoys were reserved for essentials in combat - food, water and ammunition.  Marines, until now, just had to make do without.

"Well, it's nice to have our packs now because we have our sleeping bags," said Cpl. Justin M. Rettenberger, a squad leader in 1st Platoon.

Still, Marines found ways to make life as comfortable as possible.  They established shower rotations with a Navy hospital corpsman's approval, after finding running water in some of the abandoned buildings in the city.  That water, though, was only good for a quick wash.  Drinking water was coveted.

"Now we can shave and we haven't brushed our teeth for over a week, so it sucked," Rettenberger explained. "But we're grunts, so we're used to it."

Living without even regular change of socks wasn't a morale breaker, Rettenberger explained.  Getting the gear though, boosted spirits.

"This is a great platoon. The morale of my Marines is high," Rettenberger said. "We're out here doing alright, and we're accomplishing the mission that we got out here to do."